WE DON'T KNOW how many high school students read yesterday's front-page report on the funeral of 16-year-old John Svec in Fairfax County, but in it was a timely message from hundreds of his schoolmates to their peers everywhere. John Svec was struck by a car one night last week as he walked along Little River Turnpike; the driver, first charged with driving while intoxicated, has now been charged with involuntary manslaughter. The shock of this tragedy has evoked an impressive response from the students of W. T. Woodson High School.
The students, more than a little alert now to the dangers of alcohol use, have organized demonstrations and a continuing campaign against drinking and driving in general and against drinking in high school at all. Their purpose is to shatter any adolescent impression that beer parties or other drinking occasions are key to peer acceptance.
One group, calling itself Football Players Against Drunk Driving, hopes to lead the way. Sophomore John Legters, one of 15 team members who have vowed to give up drinking at least until they reach the legal drinking age, says they intend to establish a "positive kind of peer pressure" to turn down alcohol. "We'll be going to parties, and we won't be drinking. Because we're football players, most people know us. . . ." Kim Ritchie, who has organized another student group, says, "We have to begin to make it okay to say 'no' to alcohol."
Tonight--and for at least several more weeks-- high school students throughout Greater Washington will be partying. There will be drinking. But if the spirit of Woodson can only spread and take hold, the tragedy that brought home the dangers of alcohol and automobile at that school may not have to happen somewhere else. As many teen-agers do know already, that's called maturity.